The U.S. Army appears to have swiped a quote straight from the annals of inspirational Pinterest posts and, for some reason, attributed it to Lana Del Rey as part of what’s seemingly an effort to boost recruitment among women. (Apologies for all the hypothetical hedging — but we’re all still completely confounded, too.)
On Saturday evening, Jan. 22, at the innocuous hour of 6:03 p.m. ET, the Army shared a photo of a woman crawling under barbed wire with the quote, “Being brave means knowing that when you fail, you don’t fail forever.” The line was credited to Del Rey and the post was capped off with the succinct hashtag, #SoldierSaturday.
“Being brave means knowing that when you fail, you don’t fail forever.” -Lana Del Rey
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) January 22, 2022
While a wing of the U.S. military quoting Del Rey is surreal in and of itself, it’s unclear — and pretty unlikely — that Del Rey ever actually uttered those words. Admittedly, if one Googles the quote, an array of results pop up attributing it to Del Rey, some as far back as 2016: It’s emblazoned on motivational jpegs, repurposed on blog posts like “15 Courageous Quotes to Spark Your Inner Brave” on a website called Success.com, and cemented for future generations to remember on the online quote compendium, AZQuotes.com.
Thing is, none of these aforementioned posts link to an original source, be it an interview, song, TED Talk, motivational corporate speech, whatever. In fact, you can find the same quote attributed to other parties entirely, like this silent, nine-second YouTube video from 2018 where it’s paired with a photo of a horse. Frankly, it seems just as possible that the horse said it as Del Rey.
In an attempt to solve this mind-numbing internet mystery, Rolling Stone reached out to Del Rey’s reps and the U.S. Army for comment, although Del Rey’s camp did not immediately reply. (We will update if we get an answer; in the meantime, we, too, may follow Lucy Dacus’ lead and get a lobotomy.)
A rep for U.S. Army of Public Affairs provided a pretty straightforward explanation as to how and why the quote was chosen. “It was found during an online search for motivational quotations about bravery. We often use motivational quotations in our social media content,” the rep told Rolling Stone.
The veracity of the quote aside, it does feel oddly apt that Del Rey and the U.S. Army would cross paths like this. Del Rey has largely built her career on an endlessly fascinating and precarious foundation that both criticizes and lionizes American culture and nostalgia. Early in her career, for instance, Del Rey often performed in front of an American flag, and it wasn’t until after Donald Trump’s election in 2016 that she said she felt weird and uncomfortable about it.
To that end, one telling tweet that emerged out of the Army quote fracas came from director Dylan Park, who said he was once on board to direct a Del Rey music video with a theme of “WWII to present-day military Americana. Like some Marilyn Monroe USO shit.” Parks added that the Army was going to finance the music video and provide, “Tanks, helicopters, the works.” It was only after the Army asked to use the clip for its recruiting efforts that “LDR said fuck that.”
Lol years ago I was going to direct a LDR music video. The theme was WWII to present-day military Americana. Like some Marilyn Monroe USO shit. The Army was going to finance it. Tanks, helicopters, the works. But Army wanted to use the video for recruiting and LDR said fuck that. https://t.co/t61nPHY5CR
— Dylan Park (@dyllyp) January 23, 2022